Christmas Carol for Hammered Dulcimer

Christmas Carol for Hammered Dulcimer

The melody of “Ding Dong, Merrily on High” was first a secular dance tune titled “le branle de l’Official” and appeared in a sixteenth century dance book written by Jehan Tabourot. The lyrics, in somewhat antiquated language, were written much later by an English composer named George Ratcliff Woodward and was published in 1924 in his The Cambridge Carol-Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter, and Other Seasons.

This is a fun tune not only to play but also to sing. You just have to remember to take a deep breath before you start in on the “Glo—ri-a”  part.   And don’t forget to breath when you are playing it either!

This tune lies nicely in a vertical pattern on the left side of the treble bridge with easy harmony notes falling closely on the right side.

I have included three versions other than the basic melody that I use in my arrangement recorded on my CD “Yuletide Strings”.

Listen to Cindy Ribet play “Ding Dong, Merrily on High.”

Printable Version


Simple Embellishments Version:

In the A section (verse) harmonies are added using intervals that are located across the treble bridge from the melody.  Most of the harmony notes in the B section are just a third beneath the melody. The next to the last measure is the same as in the A section and I play the harmonies on the treble-right position.


Advanced 1 version:

This version is a little harder as it utilizes some arpeggios, harmonies and syncopation.  Don’t forget that you have options on either side of the treble bridge for the harmony notes.  Try different combinations until the tune flows best for you.  For me, playing notes that are close to each other horizontally works best. So, in this version every where you see a two-note chord that is more than three steps apart I am playing the melody on the treble-left position and the harmony on the treble-right position.


Advanced 2 Version:

In this version the B section is syncopated. I happen to use a right hand lead in this tune so my syncopated notes fall on the left hand. When I play this way every beat is played with my right hand, which makes the half-beats fall to the left hand.

I also utilize the chords to the right of the treble bridge and so I have marked those notes in green.  There are some notes you can use from the bass position (the lowest notes in the measure) but do what seems best for you.  I only highlighted the notes in the measures with the syncopation.  You can make it just a little easier by leaving off the lowest note in those measures.  But remember to return to using the right hand for the next beat so the following half-beat falls on the left.


“Ding Dong Merrily on High” words:

Ding dong! merrily on high,

In heav’n the bells are ringing;

Ding dong! verily the sky

Is riv’n with angel singing.


Hosanna in excelcis!

E’en so here below, below,

Let steeple bells be swungen,

And “Io, io, io!”

By priest and people sungen.


Hosanna in excelcis!

Pray you, dutifully prive

Your matin chime, ye ringers;

May you beautifully rime

Your evetime song, ye singers.


Hosanna in excelcis!

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